Fancy becoming a ‘citizen researcher’ in pursuit of trade democracy?
As we expected, the Queen’s Speech included mention of a trade bill to be brought to parliament at some point in the next two years. Detail was predictably scant, and timetables are rarely apparent but it’s a signal for us to get things in motion for our new campaign on trade democracy.
If the UK starts making its own trade deals, parliament will have no say in starting, negotiating, amending or signing them. MPs are only asked to ratify the deal at the vey last moment. The ratification process is a formality that does not enable MPs to reject a deal outright. This is the only control that parliament currently has over trade deals, including any future trade deals with the EU.
We need to change this process by demanding that these five things should be included in the trade bill to make the trade process democratic and accountable to the public:
- The right of parliament to set a thorough mandate to govern each trade negotiation, with a remit for the devolved administrations
- The right of the public to be consulted as part of setting that mandate
- Full transparency in negotiations
- The right of parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed and a remit for the devolved administrations
- The right of parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them in a timely manner
To prep the ground for this campaign we are looking for citizen researchers who’ll be able to tell us how the newly elected set of MPs feel about trade democracy. With trade agreements not usually being discussed in parliament it’s been easy for MPs to ignore this area, leading to diminished democratic oversight of the issue. That’s why MP lobbying will be a central part of the campaign in a couple of months, at the end of parliament’s summer break, when there will be a new Early Day Motion for MPs to sign up. For now we want to put this issue firmly on their radar by asking them a few questions about their position on trade deals. Would you be able to visit you MPs surgery or write them a letter to find out the answers to the questions in this survey.
If the research action isn’t your thing you could also support the campaign by signing our online petition, downloading some dangerous deals postcards to get signed on a stall action or book a Global Justice Now speaker to come and talk at a local event.
We cannot win more progressive trade deals or policy without changing the way these trade policy is decided. We may have less than two years – to the end of the Article 50 Brexit negotiations – to make as much of an impact as we can before the UK starts signing its own trade deals. Let’s get started.